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Milk progesterone concentration useful for detection of candidate genes associated with dairy cattle fertility

01 October 2020

The study entitled “Genome-wide association study for endocrine fertility traits using single nucleotide polymorphism arrays and sequence variants in dairy cattle” identified several potential candidate genes, and DNA variants that can contribute to an index of markers for genetic improvement of fertility in dairy cattle.

In this paper, the whole genome of dairy cows was screened for associations with several fertility traits based on milk progesterone concentration, such as commencement of luteal activity. In total, 17 genomic regions where identified. Fine-mapping target regions on chromosomes 2 and 3, using imputed sequence variants identified several potential candidate genes, and variants that can contribute to an index of markers for genetic improvement of fertility.

Progesterone based fertility traits

Endocrine fertility traits were defined from progesterone concentration levels in milk. These endocrine fertility traits are good indicators for fertility in dairy cows because they are less biased by farm management decisions, have higher heritability, and more directly reflect a cow’s reproductive physiology than classical traits derived from insemination and calving data. Hence endocrine fertility traits might be more useful to detect genomic regions associated to fertility.

This is one of the few studies that has attempted to locate genomic regions associated to endocrine fertility traits, and the findings in this study help to shed more light on the genetic architecture and underlying biology of fertility in dairy cattle.

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